Kristina Vaneva

Kristina Vaneva discusses Buckinghamshire's 5 tips for Greater Well-being for healthcare providers and others

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[00:00:05.500] – Laura Cicholski

I am Laura Cicholski, I was the host of the Stressfully series for health care providers, and now we are transitioning to a new exciting series, The Finding Balance in Your Business, Career, Finances, Health and Life podcast. And we’re so excited to have you here today and we’re hoping that we have some great tips for you today. We are super thrilled to have Kristina Kristina Vaneva with us. Thank you, Kristina, because I know you’re coming to us from Bulgaria and you are on vacation.

[00:00:31.310] – Kristina Vaneva

So thank you so much for your time. Kristina is a multiple  industry award winner of several accolades related to human resources. With over 14 years of experience, she’s on a mission to create hope and happiness in the workplace.  At Atlantis She and her team were highly instrumental in reducing employee turnover from forty five percent to 17 percent. That’s impressive. And decreasing turnover costs by two hundred percent. She has also improved employee work life balance scores. Her strengths lie in driving positive organizational change and implementing impactful programs and measurable strategies.

[00:01:08.320] – Laura Cicholski

Today, she shares her learnings with our listeners. And we’re so excited to have you here today. You have an amazing story of how you work at Atlantis, a huge resort. Tell us a little bit more about how and obviously our audiences, health care providers and could be others as well, looking for different tips to improve relationships, improve workplace engagement, different things. How can some of your tips working there help them to learn greater ways to instill happiness in the workplace or in their lives or relationships?

[00:01:35.470] – Laura Cicholski

Because obviously, a lot of us, that’s our goal. But as you get busy and the normal workday, it can be hard that you remember that to implement that. But that can make it a better workplace, a better life, better relationships for everyone. If you install some of those, tell us about your tips a little bit.

[00:01:47.650] – Kristina Vaneva

My experience actually was by accident, I guess. And I’ll tell you what, as a 20 something year old who came to Dubai in two thousand eight, I had very little experience in the hospitality industry, zero experience in a chart, and absolutely no experience in employee engagement and internal communications and well-being and happiness, because 2008 was a year or it was so long ago that a full time employee engagement and happiness at work wasn’t really a thing, was developed by some positive psychologists in the 90s and willing to go farther.

[00:02:33.520] – Kristina Vaneva

And if I if I had engagements and of workplace well-being and taking care of your teams. But it wasn’t as developed mental wellbeing and mental health care has become such an important driver of a Chinese company as a whole, especially in the last two years. And the reason why I say it was by accident is because I came to Dubai  starry eyed, impressed with everything that Dubai has to offer. I have an amazing opportunity to join an award winning resort with one thousand five hundred forty nine rooms.

[00:03:16.330] – Kristina Vaneva

Each water park is actually the biggest water park in the world. Also famous sea lion point of an incredibly large room with sixty five thousand marine species. Welcome to be on the team and with my journalism experience and with my degree in communications, he believed in me and he trusted that I could do a good job with working with people. And in fact, he appointed me manager of the employee engagement requirements. Great. What was beautiful is that I had the opportunity to craft my role.

[00:03:50.320] – Kristina Vaneva

I was able to really build recording built on the rule according to the employees, but was important for them initially the first couple of years until we kind of got the hang of things, we really knew what was going on because, you know, the 2008 and really with with any hospitality business. And I think this was with with several other businesses as well, but especially with hospitality turnover, the employee turnover rate is pretty high in the first couple of years.

[00:04:25.000] – Kristina Vaneva

So for us, it was very important to get it right and to get it right fast. And you know, what was most beautiful is that comes from a very long time ago. We always equated the hospitality business to the health care business.

[00:04:42.750] – Laura Cicholski


[00:04:44.470] – Kristina Vaneva

And this is because obviously people had to go on vacation, check into an amazing hotel or any hotel. Let’s put it that way, they check into a hotel and they expect great customer service, expects to be wowed. They expect to be taken care of. And the same things with health care. Right. You check into a clinic or a hospital, you expect great customer service and more importantly, you want to be taken care of. The difference between the two industries, obviously, is what is voluntary.

[00:05:15.960] – Kristina Vaneva

I’m going to have a trip on vacation. And the other is, you know, I might be checking in for an operation, although I believe that most of the time this is on a voluntary basis when you’re checking into a hospital. But needless to say, you know, there’s so many similarities between the two, between hospitality and health care to highlight on this very spot business. You would expect great customer service in a hotel. This is the same amount of this is the right type of great customer service and care and love and support and and attention that your your customers in a health care facility, in the hospital and a clinic go to, like, put your own oxygen mask first and then take care of yourself and then take care of others.

[00:06:06.270] – Kristina Vaneva

So, you know, earlier you asked me some tips about taking care of your own mental well-being and your own happiness. I really don’t want to be presumptuous to even think about or even try to imagine the world health care professionals in the last 16 months because they’ve been through a lot difficult for me for me to be giving tips and advice. I need to step back and put myself in the position of someone who’s either providing maybe care to an elderly parent at home or to an elderly person in the hospital or to a young person in a clinic and really emphasize the fact that our own well-being and our mental health care, as well as our own sanity, our own happiness, our own productivity and purpose and drive in life are essential for for us to be able to translate that health and that care and that attention to that great customer service, whatever you want to call it, to my clients.

[00:07:18.750] – Laura Cicholski

Right. Because we have to take care of ourselves first for my special series, I e-mail or I interviewed a doctor. His name is andDr. Elia Gourgouris Dr. Gourgouris talked about he’s from Colorado and he talked about how like a year and a half ago, probably the main points that health care leaders had or issues with their employees was not mental health care, you know what I mean? It was different things was not mental wellbeing. It was you know, maybe people were leaving.

[00:07:48.510] – Laura Cicholski

Maybe it was hiring issues. Maybe it was communication issues between the staff or conflicts. But he said throughout the pandemic, the last year of the conflict, he said the major issue they have right now with their employees, which is so interesting, is mental well-being. And so you bring up some great points. So what are you think about based on kind of your what you’ve done for your own mental well-being and for your the leadership, this wonderful resort, how can they take time to maybe help?

[00:08:14.850] – Laura Cicholski

I mean, greater mental health and greater mental health tips? What are your thoughts on that?

[00:08:18.450] – Kristina Vaneva

You know, I spent quite a long time reading books on psychology or on health care, on mental health care, on self-help as well. And at one point a few years ago. Three years ago, actually, no, it’s not four years ago. Exactly. I skipped 2020 completely. I know a lot of us did. Yes, in twenty seventeen, I met two wonderful lecturers at the University of Buckinghamshire in the UK and they were specialists who specialize in positive psychology and I hadn’t realized that until that time.

[00:08:59.780] – Kristina Vaneva

I was delivering a talk on happiness. And they were very they were speakers right after me. And I was so impressed with what they were talking about, about happiness and about positivity and about statistics. You know,  it’s important to know that positive psychology is a science, you know, and happiness is a science as well in terms of health and mental health and happiness at work. If I may answer your question. One of the ways to wellbeing is Buckinghamshire’s five ways of wellbeing, because if this so there’s five tips, obviously, and this can be applied at work in your personal life, personally on your own, or with a group of people or with your family as a whole.  You could be doing projects that are based on some of these five constructs and whether it’s connecting to people, large groups or small groups or individuals.

[00:09:59.900] – Kristina Vaneva

Is that connection right? Is we are social animals. And this is why. Dr. Lee, I also know you. Dr. Lydia, would you agree with me that connection that we have lacked, you know, because of obviously social distancing or physical distancing? I don’t like social distancing. Right. I don’t think actually that is missing. Right. Because of distancing,  because of the lockdown, because those people being naturally afraid nowadays, some of those members, makes you kind of move away before, you know, you come in and you hug someone to kind of think twice about it.

[00:10:41.900] – Kristina Vaneva

Yeah. Obviously in the last year and year and  five months, a lot of this connection and especially the physical connection has disappeared. Wonderful online platforms as well as apps, you know, and just because we can’t be physically close to someone doesn’t mean that we need to stop sharing. And in fact, the I just recently read the most up to date world happiness report from 2021 and no surprise is number one happiest country in the world.

[00:11:21.780] – Kristina Vaneva

You know what’s interesting there is that loneliness is being discussed a lot. Yeah. So so loneliness obviously is become a recurring theme in the last couple of years, and it’s replaced with even more emphasis on it because of the lack of connections.  Second one is keep learning. And now for for those who love to learn in the classroom style approach doesn’t mean that others can’t learn from another from another way. You know, I was just sharing with you earlier before we started our recording about, you know, learning a little bit about gardening now that I am on vaction.

[00:12:08.960] – Laura Cicholski

Some of their tips where even on some of their lunch hours or before work, trying to get out for maybe a 10 minute walk if they could, you know what I mean?

[00:12:16.700] – Laura Cicholski

Trying to be able to do that. Anything in nature just kind of relaxes you and takes you away and then to going back to connection. I love that. And connection to nature, connection to others. Now, if there are people that are there obviously are people working remotely. Yeah. They have to do the online connection. What about health care providers trying to connect more, even with maybe fellow employees or coworkers before they start a busy shift?

[00:12:35.870] – Laura Cicholski

Is there a way recommend to do that besides just saying hi? You know, when they walk in their way to do that, you know, they kind of say, hey, we’re all on the same team, our health care leaders, to maybe make sure everyone’s connected together because

[00:12:46.190] – Kristina Vaneva

it’s important to have daily briefings or weekly briefings, whatever it is. But it’s important for people to feel that they’re part of a team that they belong to somewhere. So it’s important to have platforms that help to connect with people.

[00:13:02.870] – Kristina Vaneva

Now, more than ever, we must embrace technology. We must become friends with technology. We must use digital tools, apps, online, learning, anything that has to do with the new norm as as now everyone refers to it. We must embrace that because, you know, the longer we hold off,  the more we suffer in terms of not being able to connect, not being able to share.  The term diversity and inclusion has been coming up in the last few years.

[00:13:36.230] – Kristina Vaneva

What’s important with diversity and inclusion as it relates to well-being, as it relates to connection at the workplace.  It’s important to get to know the people that come from different nationalities, ethnicities and really know what is important to them, because, again, it’s a matter of learning and learning. We live in such a beautiful world and everyone has amazing customs. Very interesting once once you get to know the customs or the culture of a country, even the food.

[00:14:12.210] – Kristina Vaneva

So a lot of the diversity and inclusion of bits in that, that translates into engagement. And if you have a diversity and inclusion program at work, a lot of that translates to being committed to being able to connect to people, really learning something new about your coworkers, your neighbor, your daughter’s friend who is coming from a country in Africa that you’ve never heard of or or an island in Asia that you didn’t know existed.

[00:14:43.860] – Laura Cicholski

You bring up some amazing, amazing points.

[00:14:47.340] – Laura Cicholski

And I don’t know if you know, I interviewed a podcast for my first podcast, Kinita. And she’s really, really neat. So interesting because she’s from India and she moved to Canada and then she married a guy that was from the Dutch background. So she’s actually. Yeah. So it’s so cool to hear her talk about different things, different ways. So you bring up some amazing points. If I understand you correctly, it sounds like with people that it makes a better workplace.

[00:15:11.250] – Laura Cicholski

And what you’re finding at Atlantis and what can be equated to health care providers or even people in their own homes and their own relationships, their business, whatever kind of thing they’re working on, that if they care for others, if they listen and if they’re curious, that can make a better relationship. Is that right? Am I hearing you correctly with that ?

[00:15:29.310] – Kristina Vaneva

Curiosity -because it translates to care as well. You know, I care enough to ask about, you know, which part of Holland is your husband from, right. Or, you know, what do you guys do to celebrate Christmas? Or, you know, what is defining for for an Indian or what? Is there a festival of lights? What is the history behind that? You know, and then we establish that connection that a genuine connection with people because a lot of the times now.

[00:16:02.220] – Kristina Vaneva

Hi, how are you? Has just become like like one of those formality. Yeah. Greetings or formalities that you kind of don’t even listen for the answer or wait for the answer. It’s like, hi, how are you when you walk off. Right. And then the person was left saying, I’m good, thanks for asking, but you know, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, I also wanted to add to the list of tips for the well being, of course, and some personal as well as team being.

[00:16:38.590] – Kristina Vaneva

Yeah, I wanted to talk a little bit about gratitude. It is a strength that leads to happiness and with gratitude in terms of being grateful for what we have, of course, and being grateful for what we could potentially do for others, you know, being being humble about it and being in a position where where you can do something, even if it’s even if it’s the smallest thing for someone else to be able to express yourself with that someone else in a grateful way.

[00:17:18.780] – Kristina Vaneva

So gratitude, as well as taking notice in return for that is a another way of wellbeing. And this can be, of course, employed, applied to yourself as well as with others around you. And there’s lots of positive psychology interventions that you can do at the workplace. And it really starts with being a helping people become aware of counting your blessings or being in the moment, living in the moment because we live in the moment now is the only thing that we can really have some sort of control over.

[00:18:00.270] – Kristina Vaneva

And I think most people, it is safe to say, is most people like to have control. Yes. The reason my fear exists is because we don’t have control over the future. Right. As much as we would like to. And just because we don’t have that sense of control over the future, we fear what might come or what not come. But if you live mindfully in the moment and you have that somewhat stronger sense of control and obviously being able to enjoy and appreciate what you have right now.

[00:18:38.550] – Laura Cicholski

I love all the tips you’re bringing up.

[00:18:40.980] – Laura Cicholski

They’re amazing. So in the United States, obviously, we celebrate Thanksgiving every year. And so one of our traditions are to one of our traditions around the table is to have our kids say what they’re thankful for. We don’t normally do that. But I wonder, like for health care providers or other people in families relationships, now, we do that once a year. But wouldn’t it be nice if somehow you mean like health care leaders could, like, lead up when they do like and they can’t do it probably every day.

[00:19:04.110] – Laura Cicholski

They’re so busy running from taking care of one wonderful patient to another and doing great work with those patients and saving lives and helping people. But if they could maybe when they do you think this would work if they had like a meeting once in a while or an inservice or the debriefing where they went around and said, you know, is there something that you’re grateful for, whether at work or at home? And tell us about it if you’re comfortable, obviously telling us about it.

[00:19:25.290] – Laura Cicholski

Do you think that would help to to bring up? Because they obviously deal with a lot of stress. They deal with a lot of negative things, especially over the past year. But would it be nice to kind of bring up some of that to kind of talk kind of remind them that there are things to be grateful for too.

[00:19:38.100] – Kristina Vaneva

Once a day? Maybe they can do that with themselves, with their own private moments and their own private thoughts.

[00:19:47.580] – Kristina Vaneva

Right. And this is this is one of the ways that you can practice gratitude just by staying, by thinking about it, by keeping a gratitude journal. But in terms of really creating a culture of gratitude. This is one of the ways that the workplace or in the home, you could begin to influence the way people think, the way the culture of the organization or of the family is shaped by creating that culture of gratitude. And I really, really love that because.

[00:20:22.550] – Kristina Vaneva

You know, often enough, especially in big organizations, companies would do a lot for their for their team members. And I’ve experienced several companies. I’ve worked in larger organizations and smaller as well. But a lot is a lot is being done. And people forget that, you know, if you do a survey once a year or if you do a survey twice a year and you follow on that feedback and you make the changes that are either suggested or or requested by by the team members, but for that to kind of feel that the feedback that they’ve given allow people to count their blessings as a director or as a manager or as a leader, I am humbled to be able to give someone the opportunity to, for example, get promoted.

[00:21:18.560] – Kristina Vaneva

It’s called Service Leadership. I’m there for them and to help them grow and help them develop. But. Often enough companies don’t have that  mentality or that that culture of gratitude. So it’s it’s it becomes a lot about me, me, me, me. What are you going to do for me as a company? But it’s actually reciprocal, you know, and I always remember what is being done for us.

[00:21:54.270] – Laura Cicholski

Right. That’s yeah. That’s really good, too. Yeah. And kind of thing. Like you said, not having like that. Me, me, me attitude. But how can you help others and what have others already been able to have helped you notice in your life. And you bring up something really interesting and I wonder if they when they have their monthly meeting or whatever, if they could kind of have, like, you know, how you have like a strategic plan as a manager for the hospital or the practice has like a mission, strategic plan where we are goal wise.

[00:22:19.110] – Laura Cicholski

How is patient care where at for numbers, you know, all those different things that you probably looked at when you’re at Atlantis? Yeah. Measurements, exactly. Yeah. And so I wonder if they could have like a flow chart saying, well, this is where we were a year ago, Gratitude wise, this is where we are now. Or it could be the numbers could be everything else. But that could also be it could be like the personal side of it.

[00:22:37.050] – Laura Cicholski

Where we gratitude wise is where we and then they could also, I think, check in with their teams to say, you know, this is what we implemented a month ago. How do you think it’s going? Because you’re right. I mean, I may implement something with my family or my business or my team, and all of a sudden a month later, I may not be doing it as well as I thought.

[00:22:53.040] – Kristina Vaneva

I was so excited to have that constant communication, open, honest feedback, top to bottom, bottom to top and horizontal, as well as your peer to peer communication.

[00:23:07.120] – Kristina Vaneva

And it’s so, so essential for the workplace as well as for the homes, for the home to have that communication right, to hear what people want and what they don’t want. And why why is it that they want to talk about it?

[00:23:25.500] – Laura Cicholski

I’m a PA by trade, but then went into like the health care recruiting industry and I own my own health care recruiting firm. An interesting thing for me is I always err on the side, I tell my kids this too, and other people of communicating too much. Do you know what I mean? I was like, I mean, I won’t it’s not like I call someone multiple times a day if it’s a client, but I will at least let them know I took care of this.

[00:23:43.710] – Laura Cicholski

And we’re kind of the next step. Or here’s this client, you know what I mean? Because then you don’t have to ever wonder. Right, like what’s happening. So they’ve always complimented me on being able to kind of communicate overly. So I almost feel like a little bit more is better even if you’re there just to dot those i’s, you know what I mean? And cross those T’s just to make sure. And so it sounds like you do the same thing with your crew, too, just to make sure that they understand it.

[00:24:08.640] – Kristina Vaneva

Actually we communicating and I’m not saying even in the negative way because. Right. Overcommunication is a problem. But if it’s,  if you look at overcommunication, for example, in terms of various channels, you have your face to face communication, you have your email, you have your internet or your employee at every town hall meeting you have you noticed boards,  your digital digital noticeboards? You have a Facebook page or, you know, another social media yammer.

[00:24:49.890] – Kristina Vaneva

If you have multiple channels, you must always make sure that these multiple channels complement each other, OK, or videos or YouTube, etc. or YouTube. So overcommunication here. It’s obviously it’s important to communicate and communicate and communicate and to help people understand why something is being done, because that’s that kind of solves half of the problem by by having that respect for people and telling them the reason why this change is happening at the workplace and the reason why reducing your benefits is to help and help those around you as opposed to all of a sudden removing a monetary benefit or non-monetary benefits.

[00:25:41.990] – Kristina Vaneva

So, anyway, in terms of communication, as internal communicators and also people that that lead a team, whether you’re a team leader or an assistant manager, a managing director or a GM, it’s important to be able to use the right channels at the right time and know your audience. Who prefers what type of communication.   This is very important in large organizations as well.

[00:26:08.600] – Laura Cicholski

Right, exactly. Yeah, because some people might prefer text and other people might prefer, you know, some of the younger generations, which is fine, like maybe some of the Facebook or Instagram and then maybe some of the older older workers, maybe they like more telephone or email or face to face. So that’s very important. Yeah. To make sure of that.

[00:26:25.230] – Kristina Vaneva

And we also must keep in mind that not everyone has email. Correct. And most want to use a smartphone, but not everyone knows how to log on to Internet. There are still people that  work in a workplace, or in a household,  thatare not comfortable with receiving their information. I always keep that.

[00:26:51.710] – Laura Cicholski

That’s very good. Yeah. Because I think you’re serving everyone back to that inclusion statement you had earlier, which is very, very good. I know. Yeah. I love how you’re talking about that and making sure that you’re not you’re over communicating, but you’re but you’re doing it in a good way, a positive way, which is very, very good. And I love what you mention to you about. Yeah. And I love to what you mentioned about, you know, let’s say someone’s getting either losing benefits, unfortunately, if they have to, but they’re keeping their job or they’re getting moved to a different division instead of just say, OK, Bob, you’re heading over to this division.

[00:27:21.920] – Laura Cicholski

Good luck. We’ll see you later, good-bye.  Saying this is why we’re doing it. There’s a reason behind it. And then if they could find out, what are your thoughts? Positive, negative. You know, they can even take it a step further and see what their thoughts are. And then if there are some fears there, maybe they can help to calm those fears. Does that make sense to health care leader versus Bob just going over there with all these fears and thinking, oh, how am I gonna get through this?

[00:27:43.160] – Laura Cicholski

You know, I mean, you can talk through it. Does that make sense?

[00:27:46.310] – Kristina Vaneva

During this brunt of disengagement, the people don’t necessarily like change. I know, I know it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re delivering these messages, but I heard those messages are always, like I mentioned earlier, it’s a two way communication. It’s not just me as a leader giving news to my team. It’s my team giving me feedback about that.

[00:28:25.400] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, that’s great.

[00:28:26.420] – Kristina Vaneva

That’s good for my family member giving me feedback about that.

[00:28:32.030] – Laura Cicholski

That’s wonderful. I know, I think that’s what has changed now you probably see that in your workplace and all of your wonderful work at Atlantis. But it sounds like, you know, years ago, a lot of times you kind of had the person that was maybe head of the organization and would say, you know, this is the way it’s going to be done and that’s it. Do you know what I mean? OK, well, don’t ask me questions now.

[00:28:48.860] – Laura Cicholski

We’re moving on. Right. Whereas now you’re finding more and more people, especially with what you brought up in the first part of the interview. Health care leaders and their employees are dealing with a lot of mental stress over the past year. And so I think that’s amazing. If they can bring it, that factor of asking their teams, how are you doing? You know, how is it going, Dr. Eliahu? We both know amazing person, amazing psychologist.

[00:29:11.240] – Laura Cicholski

I think doing my interview with him, he mentioned the thing. How are you really doing? How are you not just. Hi, how’s it going? How are you? How is your family? How are you handling all this? And so you’re the points you bring up are so good because you are you are caring like you said. You’re curious. You’re trying to find gratitude and kindness and all that. And I think it just can bring out some things that could even be affecting their whole, you know, patient care of the hospitals as a whole.

[00:29:35.150] – Laura Cicholski

Because if there’s something at home or something in their personal life that they’re having to deal with and they feel comfortable talking to the leader about it, that can maybe make things- because as you know, things at home can go to work and things at work can affect you at home. Do you? I mean, separating it out doesn’t always happen because we’re we’re human. Right. But it’s I think it’s you bring up some great points, because if they can really find out about their team, say how are things going, how how is it working, doing these longer shifts to treat all these covid patients know, is it is it workable?

[00:30:02.870] – Laura Cicholski

Is it not? And then if it’s not trying to find maybe different solutions about you, bring up amazing points.

[00:30:08.420] – Kristina Vaneva

So if you take that time, whether you or your boss or a peer or maybe subordinate, and if you if you do take that time to show that genuine care. But really, when when when you ask how are you? It’s not just a how are you question. It’s you know, it’s knowing the person’s family or the person’s education situation that’s currently taking place or something that’s happening with their home, that maybe they’re moving home or whatever it is.

[00:30:42.110] – Kristina Vaneva

You know, it’s these little questions and it’s you know, sometimes we forget the art of communication when it’s so vital because we’re on the phones all the time and, you know, you avoid conflict and we avoid looking at people in the eye. And just because we can hide behind our screen and really have a real relationship with someone if it’s on the phone only. So that’s why it’s so it’s so it’s almost like I don’t want to call it a rare art of communication.

[00:31:17.960] – Laura Cicholski

But lately, though, it’s all the electronics that can be your correct technology is kind of taken over. I know. Just a little example. I was in the car driving my 11 year old daughter to school this morning, and she was I was asked her some questions and she was on her phone. She’s like, huh, what? And I was like, you really didn’t hear me at all. And she was like, huh? Like, you know, like the deer in the headlights.

[00:31:38.690] – Laura Cicholski

It was like you said, could you please put your phone down for a little bit so we can chat for a little while? And she was kind of like, OK, but she didn’t really want to. So, yeah, even in my own family,

[00:31:50.540] – Kristina Vaneva

I’m a culprit.

[00:31:52.040] – Laura Cicholski

I do the same to me, too. I am as well.

[00:31:54.260] – Kristina Vaneva

Yeah, I, we are, I think we we want to multitask too much. Yeah. Oh really multitask.

[00:32:03.110] – Laura Cicholski

Like I’ve learned more and more about people doing boundaries with that. And my my friend Kinita talked about that in our interview the other day, boundaries. And I think it’s you see these lockboxes where you can actually lock your phone in there, do you know what I mean? And do it. And I should I know people that just put their phone over there because, yeah, I feel like I it’s not on purpose. It’s just I think the way our world is gone and I, of course, have my own company and health care providers have patients and families and you have your employees.

[00:32:27.870] – Laura Cicholski

Do you know I mean, they have employees and people. They want to work with the kids and husbands, spouses and husbands and wives. And I feel like we don’t want to ever lose that communication or miss a phone call. I mean, that could be important. But I think you’re right. Some of our mental well-being probably is affected because we’re so plugged into that. And that’s where our focus always is, you know what I mean? Even if I’m walking on.

[00:32:49.130] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Even if I’m on nature, sometimes I’m on my phone walking my dogs and I’m like because I’m trying to do two things at once. But how in your experience, how do we break away from that? Even the busy health care providers and obviously they’re charting and, you know, is that where they take the break on lunch hour outside? What what, in your experience could help with that? The digital kind of fix.

[00:33:11.290] – Kristina Vaneva

If you have got to the point where I actually had to take my phone, go downstairs, lock it up in the car and, you know, not even like it wasn’t even working to have it in the room next to me. Forget about it. It’s very strange. But I have certain friends that. You know, when I’m having a conversation with them or sitting down with them and never look at the phone, I actually don’t even take it out of the bag.

[00:33:39.660] – Kristina Vaneva

That’s OK. Yeah, but others, you know, it’s right next to me and also. I think. Yeah, I think, look, if you don’t have the phone next to you, but you have it on loud so that you can hear someone is calling,

[00:33:59.380] – Laura Cicholski

right, like an emergency.

[00:34:00.760] – Kristina Vaneva

Yeah, yeah. But it’s not urgent, but it’s a call. And people people stop calling nowadays, though, they’re mostly texting or some sort of emailing. Yeah. So if it’s a phone call, you know, it’s important. So exactly. Remove notifications and then maybe set boundaries every couple of hours or every hour or whatever it is. But you know yourself that when you’re not present in a conversation, in a meeting, in any kind of interaction with humans, when you’re not present, you’re not giving your full attention, you’re not you’re not going to get the maximum out of the meeting, whether it’s a family dinner or whether it’s cinema or whether you’re walking your dogs in the nature, leave your phone at home.

[00:34:58.330] – Kristina Vaneva

If you can set it on screen time, you have like two hours a day of phone time or half an hour or whatever it is.

[00:35:10.780] – Laura Cicholski

I think you bring up good points. And I think like with I’m the same way. I’m always really good about answering unless I’m in a meeting or somewhere a doctor appointment, I can’t answer right away. I’m usually really good about with my business and my family answering emails and text right away. Well, now I’ve kind of put some boundaries in place where I’ll check email, like if I’m doing an interview, like with someone like yourself and things might be changing, I’ll keep my phone right near me to check emails.

[00:35:30.400] – Laura Cicholski

But if it’s something that’s not a hugely scheduled day, then I will like maybe check it twice a day and I’ll let even some my friends know they’ll be like, I haven’t heard from you in a couple hours and I’ll be like, you know what, I’m trying to check text that, you know, a little bit less. Do you know what I mean? So I put boundaries and with friendships too. So I’m trying to put boundaries in place.

[00:35:46.630] – Laura Cicholski

And it makes me think about, like, you know, physicians and nurses and PA’s  that are on call. That’s tricky. They have to keep the phone with them because they could be called to the hospital. But on the days when they’re not on call, they could probably do what you did. Right. And put the phone maybe in another room right somewhere and then maybe check it every couple of hours, you know, just to make sure that they they weren’t needed for extra shift or something.

[00:36:09.460] – Laura Cicholski

But if their families with them, I’m less likely to need my phone around me with my all my kids and my husband are home.  I

[00:36:13.870] – Kristina Vaneva

Have that time to yourself like like we were talking about earlier. You put your own oxygen mask on first, take your medicine first, and then pressing for your for your patients, because if you’re not fully there when you’re there, then you’re not giving your all. And so, you know, I really believe in giving my all.

[00:36:36.370] – Laura Cicholski

If it’s true, you’re right. And when they get home that evening, it’s nice that they can give some I know they’re busy with charting and everything, but if they can give some time to their family and then some time for what they want to do hobby wise, if they have time and maybe, like you said, put the try to put the day they can, I know it’s hard. They probably bring all those patient thoughts in with them.

[00:36:55.030] – Laura Cicholski

But if they can kind of put some of that just to kind of in the back of their head for a little while and be able to focus on their their family, hobbies they like to do, even if it’s just relaxing.

[00:37:03.640] – Kristina Vaneva

So important, like you mentioned, to have time for a hobby or time for you know, I love using the oh, forgot the name now is the circle of Happiness. And it’s a circle that divides it divides different parts of life and divided into several spokes. So the wheel is the wheel of life, for example, your spoke or your refraction that takes care of your work, of your education, of your spirituality, of your relationships, love, your of your exercise is also just the first two years of life that form your life is so interesting when you look at this wheel of life is divided into numerical from one to ten.

[00:37:58.240] – Kristina Vaneva

So for example, your career could be at ten, then your other relationships could be a two. And come on, looks like a spider virtually outside of your spider web. The more unbalanced it is the more you need to pay attention to what one is suffering because something else, something is suffering. And what do you really want to work on in terms of balance in your life?

[00:38:27.910] – Laura Cicholski

When I was studying up this podcast, finding balance for health care providers and others, one of my speakers who talks about resilience, Eileen , she’s amazing. And she talked about she’s like, well, we call Balance a misnomer. And I so I kind of acquired more about that. And what she was talking about was and what you bring up is a great point. We’re never quite in balance, completely. Like we’re never like if we’re at work, we can’t have our home life.

[00:38:50.560] – Laura Cicholski

Right. That’s hard to do. You can’t be at home at the same time unless you’re doing working from home, but you can’t be completely with your kids when you’re working. Does that make sense? But I love what you’re bringing up, because what I was trying to tell Eileen with the series is that you’re totally right. I said we can’t find complete balance at all times. You’re not going to be exercising while you’re working and spend time with your family.

[00:39:09.450] – Laura Cicholski

But the cool thing that you brought up just now is if you’re finding that you’re spending too much time at work or too much time with family and not working, then you can kind of go back almost on that teeter totter and go to the other side a little bit. You’re never going to be perfect. Right? But I feel like it’s if you can have what you talk about, the spokes, the wheel, the tent, if you can get some of all of that into your life.

[00:39:30.780] – Laura Cicholski

So time for your relationships. Time for spirituality. Right. Work, business, hobbies. Maybe it doesn’t happen every day. Right. But trying to find more of it,

[00:39:41.190] – Kristina Vaneva

It is very important, obviously, when you’re looking at the wheel of life to be able to see what’s important to you. Yeah, and if that is out of balance, though, to make a plan of how to put that in balance and how to bring it up, bring the points up to, for example, a seven as opposed to a one, you know.

[00:40:04.530] – Laura Cicholski

I love that. I think that’s what we’re trying to do with interviewing amazing experts like you today and others. And just with our podcast is just trying to help. Like you said, I love that point you just made finding their own balance. Right. Because like you said, there might be someone that wants to work out maybe three times a day, maybe do morning, noon and night around work. You never know. But then someone else says, gosh, if I can get a walk in three times a week, that’s my balance.

[00:40:26.460] – Laura Cicholski

But I think this is all about finding balance in their own life. Right. And their own career, what they can do. But like you said earlier, making sure they don’t neglect the self care. You know what I mean? Balance is not working from morning till night. They may have done that years ago, but that’s not the way to get balance because

[00:40:43.860] – Kristina Vaneva

You’re not doing anyone any favors right now, doing any favors, your patience, your family and friends.

[00:40:52.110] – Kristina Vaneva

Right. Because that’s where we we we talk about we place so much importance on work life balance, right? Yeah, yeah. But it’s it’s really all about being mindful and understanding yourself, listening to yourself so much of the time now we spend on phones or Netflix behind our computer ignoring our thoughts. Yeah. Because sometimes, you know, our thoughts can be painful. They could be nasty. You know, it’s difficult to hear ourselves. It’s difficult to hear inner  voice because your inner voice will tell you that, hey, listen, you’re working too much or actually you need to be doing more of this and less of that.

[00:41:42.750] – Kristina Vaneva

So you just you just shut it up with technology and it’s a way of escaping, you know? So it’s it’s really about being mindful and and listening to yourself to say,

[00:41:54.420] – Laura Cicholski

OK, now you talked about being mindful. And then we’ll go back to your five tips as well. But the gratitude. But you talked about the being mindful and being able to walk in nature and journal. Are there any other mindful tips you recommend for Busy because you’re obviously busy doing their day.

[00:42:08.820] – Laura Cicholski

I know that with your job, like if you’re going for one test and others or something you do in the middle of the workday to kind of stop and just focus on being mindful for a little bit. Is it meditation or is it just thinking? Is it journaling? What do you do? Because it might help providers too.

[00:42:22.060] – Kristina Vaneva

I think it’s going to sound like a cliche, but it’s important for me it’s listening to your breathing, OK? Yeah, it’s really, you know, if you study yoga or if you studied breathing techniques, you will know it. And, you know, it could be a complete beginner. You could have just, you know, five percent knowledge of breathing. You will know. And I think this is probably no news to health care providers, but you will know that your breathing can regulate so much, your breathing can regulate your stress, your fear, your exhaustion.

[00:42:58.170] – Kristina Vaneva

And this is one of the reasons why yoga and meditation are so helpful. And they have become, they’re becoming increasingly popular because I started doing yoga instructor courses. You might be holding your breath, you might be releasing your breath, but you’re always mindful of what you’re doing with your breath while you’re breathing, how many breaths you’re taking. Another one of my tips is it’s really analyzing why you’re having such a reaction or a certain emotion towards something. You know, why are you all of a sudden angry when this person walked in the room or, you know, what annoyed you or, you know, why are you afraid to take that step?

[00:43:46.060] – Kristina Vaneva

It’s really being in tune with your emotions and understanding your emotions, which also brings me back to mindfulness without really knowing yourself. And I think maybe. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I think we never really know ourselves fully because of everything else that’s surrounding us and distracting us. Right. If you’re mindful and if you listen to your thoughts and your emotions and you analyze and you dissect and you’re like, well, what is it in in this situation that makes me happy?

[00:44:24.800] – Kristina Vaneva

And how can I multiply these situations so I can continue to bring happiness to my life and well-being to my life? You know, we we the last actually the last of the five ways to well-being is exercising. And a lot of that has to do with producing happy hormones and obviously feeling good about ourselves when we exercise. And so with your with your loved ones and see that progress, which which makes you happy.

[00:44:59.210] – Laura Cicholski

I love all of your tips about mindfulness. It’s so interesting. And I think with your mom, it’s great that she’s starting the exercise program and you’re able to help her out with the trainer because like you said, it’s little steps, right? Does it have to be the biggest? Some of us have to go from not exercising to the big marathon. Right. They can just do a little step. So even if, like, there’s a health care provider that doesn’t normally do mindfulness, like you said, maybe it’s just a matter of thinking, a kind of about their breathing and what they can do.

[00:45:23.900] – Laura Cicholski

Now, when we talk about breathing real quick, before we go back to your your five steps of happiness,  with breathing, I’ve heard so many things. I’ve heard the deep breath. I’ve heard that don’t even do just kind of listen, feel for your heart breathing and be kind of quiet about it. Is there a certain type of breathing that you do that helps your mindfulness?

[00:45:41.690] – Kristina Vaneva

Even though it’s called actually because you caught me off guard?

[00:45:49.640] – Laura Cicholski

Or just like a no, not a name, just like a type of breathing that you like to do it with just a regular breath. What we should be breathing, OK?

[00:46:00.000] – Laura Cicholski

The deep inhale and exhale are OK. OK,

[00:46:03.770] – Kristina Vaneva

so you like kind of the deep breathing, you know, in order to. Well, calm down, because I’m a very emotional person, so I like showing emotion and I like feeling kind of, you know, I wear my heart on my sleeve or maybe upset something else.

[00:46:22.990] – Kristina Vaneva

I definitely know how to calm myself down just. But it just takes less than a minute. OK, just hear yourself breathing. Think about it and move on, OK? That’s my simple recommendation.

[00:46:38.290] – Laura Cicholski

No, that’s good. Because they could even in between, like, you know, charting for patients or seeing a patient, they could just stop for a few minutes and do that. Or I’ve had other experts tell me to have them put their hand on the outside of the door and take some deep breaths before they go in so that they’re kind of that almost helps that the bridge between seeing the last patient in the next patient. Right. Calming down your breath.

[00:46:56.920] – Laura Cicholski

And don’t keep that those hormones circulating epinephrine and stuff to calm it down a little bit, which is so good. Now back to – I want to make sure for our audience that we don’t miss any of the wonderful tips you’re sharing. So make sure. So let’s go back through the five just real quick, just the names and make sure we covered them. All right. It is that it

[00:47:13.780] – Kristina Vaneva

connects, OK?

[00:47:16.050] – Kristina Vaneva

Next, you learn, give, you know, give, give and gratitudes. And we just discussed exercise and take notice. So that is connected to mindfulness, which we talked a lot about.

[00:47:31.880] – Laura Cicholski

Take notice, which is so great. So this has been wonderful today. Is there a place where our audience can find you?

[00:47:39.970] – Kristina Vaneva

Yeah, actually recently started a YouTube channel that combines writing songs for my YouTube channel. Kristina is just my name is very simple and so far I have focused on sharing in my videos, recommendations, ideas, and these are all tried and tested over the years, ways of engaging with your team and making sure that your team is well taken care of becaus oK, right with with with the profitability.

[00:48:20.260] – Kristina Vaneva

But in between, you’ll find, you know, your your employee turnover, which is the number of people that leave the organization and the cost that that could be for an organization. So disengaged employees could cost quite a lot in terms of whether they leave or in terms of whether they stay. And you want to be able to. Create an environment where people and that culture where people are happy, where they’re engaged, where they’re feeling productive, where they’re feeling that they belong.

[00:48:52.760] – Kristina Vaneva

They have a purpose and a mission. And obviously, there is no there is a number of ways that that can be done. And just focusing on internal communication, rewards and recognition activities, there are many tools, social or physical activities, something that’s really essential in terms of employee engagement and wellbeing and all the strategies that you can put together at work in any kind of industry is your measurements. Because what necessary to get the metrics? That’s true. Yes. You want to make sure that whatever you’re putting together, you’re constantly getting feedback.

[00:49:33.860] – Kristina Vaneva

And I’m not talking about asking on a daily basis what I’m talking about, having your striking touch points and also moments that matter for employees. It’s important to keep those in mind to know that those speaking personas, you know, you have the new employee or the employee that’s been there for six years or you have parents as an employee or you have before. See, so there are certain personas in terms of total engagement and happiness and the employee retention.

[00:50:11.780] – Kristina Vaneva

Certain things might be important for someone that’s not important to others. So we need to know your audience or your your your audience within the audience might be able to request engagement with them.

[00:50:27.650] – Laura Cicholski

Those are very good tips. And like you talked about you earlier, with culture, knowing different cultures, and when they maybe they share a special holiday, you know, probably not everyone celebrates Christmas. So then whatever holidays for their nationality or their group, culture group is important to know whether they might need time off from work. Right. So everyone is everyone is different with what they share and what they celebrate. Knowing that and maybe even remembering their birthdays, that’s important to them.

[00:50:52.730] – Laura Cicholski

Maybe their anniversary of the birth of a child or something.

[00:50:56.960] – Kristina Vaneva

I mean, these are basics. You know, if if companies don’t have that, this is the first thing that they must do. These moments that matter, your birthday, your anniversary, your national holiday and such a beautiful melting pot of so many nationalities and cultures. Right. You can’t get away any more with with not being, with not having a diversity, inclusion and and belonging program or strategy as part of your workplace.

[00:51:27.140] – Laura Cicholski

Well, thank you so much for being here. It’s been wonderful to have you. I know you’ve given us so many tips and so many things for health care providers and anyone else listening. But we’re really thankful for you being here today. And thank you to all the health care providers and all the wonderful work you’ve done over the past year. Thank you, Kristina.

[00:51:43.190] – Kristina Vaneva

Thank you so much, Laura, as well. And thank you to everyone who’s listening to us. I hope you found our podcast entertaining and rewarding and you’ve learned something you want to hear. What is that one tip that you have taken away from you, from from us, from here?

[00:52:04.010] – Laura Cicholski

That’s great. All right. Thank you, Kristina. Good to talk to you. Bye bye.

[00:52:08.450] – Kristina Vaneva

Good bye.


Kristina’s video collection will teach you how to build your own employee programs to keep employee and customer satisfaction as high as possible.

Kristina Vaneva headshot275


Kristina is a multiple industry award-winner of several accolades related to Human Resources.

With over 14 years of experience, she is on a mission to create hope and positivity, and to encourage happiness at the workplace and in people’s lives. Today, Kristina will share her learnings from Malta, a small but progressive island in the Mediterranean Sea having worked at Atlantis, an extraordinary 1548 room resort.

While at Atlantis, she and her team were highly instrumental in reducing employee turnover from 45% to 17% and decreasing turnover costs by 200%. She also improved employee work-life balance scores. Her strength lies in driving positive organizational change and implementing impactful programs and measurable strategies.  Today, she shares her learnings with our listeners in this insightful and inspirational interview.”

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